Amiina, Kurr

Ian Gittins

By Ian Gittins

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Amiina have long hummed and sketched in the shadow of their Icelandic compatriots Sigur Ros, with whom they have sporadically toured since 2005. This immaculately poised debut album, however, earns them a glowing reputation all of their own.

Glacial soundscapes from Reykjavik.

The group comprises four women in their twenties who are part spectral string quartet, part post-rock astral voyagers. They predominately play violin, viola and cello, weaving in delicate, compelling aural patterns with xylophone, bells, musical saw, harp or lustrous electronic loops and samples. Their stately music perennially hovers on the verge of silence while never once managing to sound even remotely precious. Each piece is a minimalist, quietly euphoric instrumental bestowed with an Icelandic title; "Sogg," the opener, is as rapt and still as Björk's "Aurora," and is best described as the noise that snow would make, were it able to sing. "Sexfaldur" is similarly radiant, drawing ecstasy from the most measured and precise pipes, strings and bleeps, while the closing "Boga" sounds like a sparse, lonely orchestra of instruments playing itself, devoid of human hand. Amiina are a close-to-unique musical proposition, and hugely deserving of your attention.